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Duff, D’Amelio detail campaign expenses in State filing

Billboards above Liberty Square on Wednesday for State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25), left, and his Republican challenger Marc D’Amelio, right.

The election is Nov. 6.

Updated, 7:24 a.m.: information added; 6:52 a.m.: Copy edits

NORWALK, Conn. – Financial details of the various campaigns for state office are available online, in filings that were due at midnight Wednesday.

The campaign for State Sen. Bob Duff has paid The SoNo Group a $20,000 fee for running his campaign.  The SoNo Group’s president and owner, Mary Pugh, lives in an apartment at Duff’s residence.  Expenses for Duff’s Republican opponent, Marc D’Amelio, include $3,000 a month for his SoNo headquarters and fees for a campaign manager, media director, and consultant.

Both candidates are participating in the state taxpayer-funded Citizen’s Election Program, which awards campaign grants to participating candidates who raise a required number of small donations.  Candidates who participate in the program are barred from raising funds elsewhere, with the intent of reducing the political influence of large donors.

NancyOnNorwalk was directed to study the campaign filings by D’Amelio treasurer Bryan Meek, who in a phone call with NoN raised questions about Duff’s campaign manager, Mary Pugh.

Meek in a Facebook post wrote that Duff’s Committee, “Friends of Bob Duff,” is a “vehicle where Bob has taken almost $600,000 of our money to mostly pay ‘The SoNo Group Inc’. Disbursements ranging up to nearly $50,000 a peice {cq} without any real details on where or how the money was spent. ‘The SoNo Group’ is registered to Mary Pugh of 50 Toilsome Ave, Bob’s house.”

Meek is not the only Republican questioning what one NancyOnNorwalk commenter referred to as “Duffs campaign irregularities;” District 140 State Representative candidate John Flynn in a Monday email said, “they don’t break down their accounting on the filings.  so we don’t know how much they are skimming off the top.”

Duff and Pugh declined to comment in response to the allegations.  Duff qualifies for Citizens Election Program funding and has for years; Duff and D’Amelio have each received $95,710 in CEP funds, documents show.

The total expenditures for Duff’s campaign as of Sept 30 were $102,515.04; D’Amelio had spent $65,943.94.

Pugh has lived in an in-law apartment at Duff’s house for several years, sources say. She founded The SoNo Group in 1990 and has been Duff’s campaign manager since 2000, her LinkedIn page states.  It also notes that she was a campaign manager for former Mayor Alex Knopp between 1992 and 2003.

“Have worked with Alex Knopp since 1992 (when his district was re-districted and he lost most of his constituency and post his vote FOR the income tax),” the LinkedIn page states. “It looked unlikely that he would be re-elected, but with skillful database management and targeted communications, he won and won again in 94, 96 98, ran for Mayor in 2000 and helped him not only WIN but swept in the entire democratic ticket (helped the various candidates with database, fundraising, communications and web sites.).”

Pugh is also a notary and performs weddings, and both skills are listed on her LinkedIn page. Sources say she runs these businesses through The SoNo Group. She has a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from Columbia University, according to her LinkedIn page.

The Norwalk tax records available online do not provide information to show when Pugh moved into Duff’s house. A public records search through Intelius showed Pugh’s addresses but does not say when she lived in the various locations. The tax records show that she received motor vehicle tax bills at 7 Naromake Ave. until 2010; the home is owned by her daughter.

Pugh has also lived in Silvermine.

Duff’s campaign filing, in the “Expenses Paid By Committee” section, states that $36,500 was paid to The SoNo Group for “advertising and management.” It also lists these payments to The SoNo Group:

  • $2,493.54 lawn signs, food
  • $3,688.45 ice cream social expenses
  • $374.85 miscellaneous items
  • $1,574.08 various items
  • $1,799.43 office supplies, postage, advertising
  • $129.05 supplies
  • $9,117.50 videos, meeting space

 

Those lesser amounts total $19,176.90.

The expenses are detailed further into the filing, under “itemization of reimbursements and secondary payees,” beginning on page 14.

  • July 15: $20,000 to The SoNo Group, consultant
  • July 15: $10,000 payment to Roger Williams, copy director for ads
  • July 15: $500 to American Legion, venue for pasta party
  • July 15: $1,000 to Roz McCarthy, consultant, bookkeeping services
  • July 15: $5,000 to Dot Payne, art director ads
  • Aug. 2: $2,486.04 to My Campaign Store, signs (a-frame?)
  • Aug. 3: $7.50 to Nik’s Place, food
  • Aug. 20: $400, Mike Camacho, performance at ice cream social
  • Aug. 20: $200, Joby and Socks, clown for ice cream
  • Aug. 20: $400, TJ Salta, magic for ice cream social
  • Aug. 20: $600 Seaside Sliders, ice cream
  • Aug. 20: $2,013.45 4imprint, promotional items
  • Aug. 20: $75 helium for ice cream social
  • Aug. 30: $26.29 Walmart materials for ice cream social
  • Aug. 30: $33.06 Home Depot key tags, batteries
  • Aug. 30: $75 BMHS band for band ad book
  • Aug. 30: $150.55 to Robodial.org, invite to ice cream social
  • Aug. 30: $89.95 to Axel Technologies, web
  • Sept. 11: $47.96 Costco, water
  • Sept. 11: $15.95, Dollar Tree, table cloths
  • Sept. 11: $430.13 4 imprint car magnets
  • Sept. 11: $1,000 Christian Szabo-Williams video stories
  • Sept. 11: $80.04 Amazon scanning
  • Sept. 17: $1,247.88 Harty Press mailer
  • Sept. 17: $127.80 Amazon toner paper
  • Sept. 17: $423.75 4imprint magnets
  • Sept. 17: $29.05 Walmart paper USB drives
  • Sept. 17: $100 USPS
  • Sept. 26: $8,080 Square Squared video
  • Sept. 26: $1,000 Roger Williams copy for video
  • Sept. 26: $37.50 Noroton Heights Depot rental fee

 

Duff’s July 10 filing shows the same pattern, with $35,266.41 issued to The SoNo Group with no explanation, then an itemized accounting under “itemization of reimbursements and secondary payees,” including $18,112.50 to Signal Outdoor Advertising and $15,713 for Lamar, a billboard company.

NancyOnNorwalk searched earlier campaign filings to see how much Pugh was paid when she did not live at Duff’s house.

The Oct. 7, 2004 filing shows that The SoNo Group was paid $18,240 for “consulting.” The SoNo Group’s address was 9 Outer Road; the City’s GIS states that Pugh bought the home for “$0”in 1997 and sold it in 2008 for $1.3 million.

Wednesday’s filing also shows a $500 expense to CEF, for “lawn signs from previous campaign.”

CEF is Citizens’ Election Fund.

“If a participating state senate candidate has control and custody over 100 or more lawn signs that he is reusing, the treasurer must report use of the signs and his committee’s grant will be reduced by $500,” the Citizens’ Election Program guide states.

D’Amelio’s Wednesday filing lists the following items under “Expenses Paid By Committee:”

  • July 9: $45.85 CEP 10 delivery
  • July 9: $392.02 Optimum, phone and internet
  • July 10: $144.63 Amazon, phone equipment
  • July 13: $164.25 Amazon, phone equipment
  • July 27: $575 Gordon Fine Arts, SoNo Arts Fest tent Aug.4-5
  • Aug. 9: $6,000, TR SoNo Partners LLC, HQ rent for August and September
  • Aug. 9: $2,000, Thomas Burns, digital media coordinator for July and August
  • Aug. 9: $2,000, Isabelle Hargrove, campaign manager for July and August
  • Aug. 9: $1,728, Sarah O’Connor, consultant, 96 hours through Aug. 9
  • Aug. 9: $1,291.29, Marc D’Amelio, “various out of pocket expenses reported in prior period form 30”
  • Aug. 15: $1,787.83, Victory Store, 500 lawn signs, payment one of two
  • Aug. 16, $1,462.50, Victory Store, 500 lawn signs, payment two of two
  • Aug. 20: $90.40, MK&T Design and Print, thank yous
  • Aug. 20: $382.86, MK&T Design and Print, palm cards and other printing
  • Aug. 20: $692.34, The Blind Rhino, HQ opener food
  • Aug. 20: $1,309.95, Castle Creative, consultant, payment one of two for video production
  • Aug. 21: $340.14, Optimum, phone and internet for HQ
  • Aug. 27: $105.02, The Blind Rhino, food for budget and strategy meeting
  • Aug. 31: $340.14, Optimum, phone and internet for HQ
  • Sept. 8: $270, Sarah Connor, consultant, 15 hours through Sept. 8
  • Sept. 8: $1,250, Castle Creative, consultant, payment two of two for video production
  • Sept. 8: $2,500, Thomas Burns, consultant, “graphic designer contract for campaign per agreement”
  • Sept. 10: $8,720, Lamar, billboards
  • Sept. 11: $50, SignTrack, sign tracking application
  • Sept. 12: $1,518.40, Marc D’Amelio, “out of pocket expenses as reported in section O”
  • Sept. 12: $3,500, Remington Research Group, polling in September
  • Sept. 12: $1,542.08, MK&T Design and Print, tee shirts, palm cards and other printing
  • Sept. 13: $1,626.54, Victory Store, 300 new lawn signs
  • Sept. 13: $450, Lamar, change order for billboard
  • Sept. 13: $750, Facebook
  • Sept. 19: $3,000, TR SoNo Partners LLC, HQ rent for October
  • Sept. 19: $750, Facebook
  • Sept. 24: $175, Dairy King, meet and greet ice cream social
  • Sept. 26: $750, Facebook
  • Sept. 28: $180, Sarah Connor, campaign coordinator 10 hours through Sept. 28
  • Sept. 28: $1,000, Thomas Burns, digital media director for September
  • Sept. 28: $1,000, Isabelle Hargrove, campaign manager for September
  • Sept. 30: $170, Francescas Italian Deli, coffee meet n greet

 

Section O is the expenses paid by candidate:

  • $266.98, office AV equipment
  • $150, Factory Underground, control room rental
  • $977.42, various Facebook posts
  • $124, Stickermule, stickers

 

These total $1,518.40.

The July 10 filing, form 30, shows these expenses paid by candidate:

  • $75.72, Overnight Prints, palm cards
  • $368, Stickermule, stickers, magnets and buttons
  • $98.55, Overnight Prints, business cards
  • $336.99, StickerYou Inc.
  • $5.05, Google, Gsuite
  • $100, Fred Bridschge, food

 

These total $984.31.

Wednesday’s filings show that the Duff campaign had $23,458.84 on hand as of Sept. 30 and D’Amelio had $47,255.06.

The CEP program states, “All expenditures must be made to promote the nomination or election of the candidate who established the committee.”

22 comments

Mike Mushak October 11, 2018 at 8:44 am

Enlightening article! I learned that the accusations by the D’Amelio campaign are completely bogus and desperate, and that my friend Isabelle Hargrove is being paid thousands by the D’Amelio campaign to manage his campaign. I had no idea.

I recall reading many comments on social media by Ms. Hargrove attacking Duff and supporting her boss, without any mention of her position as campaign manager. Does anyone know if there is a legal requirement for full transparency in these situations?

DrewT October 11, 2018 at 9:02 am

@AngryMikeM Since you have blocked me and others on other Social Media pages because we actually call you out on your BS and won’t be bullied by you, I guess I can respond to your nasty comments here. Isabelle has always said and its very well known that she is the Campaign Manager. But please try and keep grasping at straws to discredit out of the most intelligent, Bright and full of energy woman that has tremendous amount of class Isabelle Hargrove. You may want to be extremely careful throwing stones at someone like her who is way out of your league. But if you need a class lesson after the election maybe she will volunteer her service for you {…}
However, moving on since you think this is such an enlightening article maybe you should re-read the funny expenditures spent by the Duff Campaign this year and the last couple of elections. A Campaign Paying its manager that lives in their house called the SONO Group?!!? Yeah that doesn’t sound too legit now does it? But please keep grasping Mike, I’ll tell Donna you say hello.

Edited to remove an insult, a violation of the comment policy. https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/comment-guidelines/

David T McCarthy October 11, 2018 at 9:21 am

If Sarah Connor is supporting Marc, is the T-800 working for Duff?

@AngryMikeM…a reasonable reimbursement of expenses for effort vs. TENS of THOUSANDS and an apartment? I am so thankful you’re around Norwalk…you just might actually cost Duff this election.

Matt October 11, 2018 at 10:25 am

Blind Rhino, Socks the Clown, Closed cases, and in law apts…. Nancy, can you let us know when or if you are going to engage these two on the issues that face us? Can you moderate a debate? Are you going to do a questionnaire that each candidate has to fill out? Can you have Marc ask Bob 5 written questions and Marc ask 5 written questions?… Enlightening article? Sure it is for gotcha politics. For a century, the Norwalk voter received its candidates platforms from a writer of the Norwalk Hour, oped or direct mail, you have the opportunity to give us a deeper dive into each of their vision. Can you let us know if you are planning something more that we can look forward to? I respectfully ask this.

Mike Mushak October 11, 2018 at 10:25 am

@David T McCarthy, how’s Florida? Bored perhaps? No opportunities to spread anti-Muslim racist fliers on doorsteps, or spy on political opponents by secretly videotaping them while hiding in the bushes? Surely you can find some work at Mar a Lago!

I see you are helping Marc just like you helped Lisa. Maybe that’s the kind of help they don’t need!

Teacher October 11, 2018 at 10:45 am

Why does this have to be so angry? We all want a better Norwalk, but if we continue to plant seeds of hate, we will only grow division and negativity. Respect has long left this discussion. Many of the same commentators on both sides prefer to attack the person rather than their idea or thought. Both sides are guilty. This win at all cost mentality is what forces individuals to remain silent or use pen name.
I look with dismay at the society we our children based upon our current actions and inability to get along with one another.

Kevin Kane October 11, 2018 at 12:37 pm

I stopped reading after reading “Mike Mu…”

Mike, I know you fairly well enough and respect your service and knowledge of the workings of Norwalk government as well as David’s work for the Historical Society etc. I too get crazed including my flaming DOT dump truck recap of Rt1/East Ave. (Nancy, I’ll email you the pdf for some fun) but please downshift a bit.

Thanks and Happy Friday Eve,
Kevin

Matt October 11, 2018 at 1:45 pm

Mike Mushak – you are the kind of voice that politics and Norwalk don’t need. “Witty” quips aren’t particularly constructive, left, right, center, red, blue or fushcia. Your muddy hands are forging muddy ideas. Surely you can find a more constructive way to spend your literary efforts.

Piberman October 11, 2018 at 6:31 pm

Mike Mushak, reportedly a local landscape designer, has long supported Mayor Rilling and Norwalk Democrats. So he’s a valued resource for Democrats given that our Mayor, a former Police Chief, doesn’t often comment in the public media. In our One Party City we don’t have many opportunities to hear from City Hall or their supporters/advocates. Look forward to Mr. Mushak’s views on renters, declining property values, stagnant Grand List, favoring Developers, reluctance of major business to invest in Norwalk, puntive City property taxes and why long time homeowners are exiting Norwalk. Or why its so difficult to obtain public service from local residents with distinguished business careers.

Mike Mushak October 11, 2018 at 8:36 pm

I love you all! Obviously hit a raw nerve. Oops!

Trump is out there telling the country in his disgusting rallies that a vote for any Republican candidate this year is a vote for Trump. Gee, anyone wonder which lever I’m pulling?

We know where Bob Duff stands on the issues of the day, whether you agree with him or not.

But why are Republicans including Marc D’Amelio so afraid to talk about Trump and his racist and sexist and idiotic policies? I’ve asked Marc many times and get evasive answers.

For crying out loud Marc just man up and talk about Trump! Do you agree with the direction he’s taking us? Which of his policies do you agree with and which don’t you? Do you think stealing babies out of their patents arms is a good immigration policy? Do you think shaming a victim of sexual assault in front of the nation is a good policy for a president to take? Do you really think blowing up our deficit to give tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations is a smart policy, which most economists agree will cripple our economy for generations and force cuts to Social Security and Medicare throwing the most vulnerable out onto the streets to die as the rich get richer? Is that also your vision for America’s future? If not, say so!

Let me be blunt. All Republicans running for office this year from dog catcher to US Senator deserve to go down in flames this Election Day for their continuing support of racist and sexist Trump and refusal to stand up for real American values.

As Trump said at the rally in PA two nights ago as Florida was hit with a Cat 4 hurricane, a vote for any Republican candidate is a vote for Trump. I believe him. Just look at how the corrupt Republicans in Congress have protected him. They’ve destroyed any integrity they ever had.

Here’s my smart informed advice: Vote for Bob Duff, the candidate who we know will stand up for all of us!

Michael Foley October 11, 2018 at 10:48 pm

The Duff Campaign has attack Marc D’Amelio for a dumb mistake he made and He has paid the price for it ! Life is about forgiveness and restitution and he has done both ! I believe in him because Ive made mistakes in my life that Im not proud of I think many of you have also ! The Election is about who can help this state ! I believe its Marc D’Amelio ! Please Vote for Change because the same old story isn’t working for Norwalk or Connecticut !

DrewT October 11, 2018 at 11:16 pm

@angry Mike Mushak..At the end of your last post you should have put..I’m Bob Duff and I approved this message..Then make sure you send a check to this Blog for the free advertising you are stealing. I can’t wait until after election day when you will just shut your nasty bulling mouth in this City! We are tired of it!

Ernie DesRochers October 12, 2018 at 7:04 am

I find it incredibly amusing that folks who claim that Republicans are intolerant are actually the folks who are intolerant. The real platform of the Democrat party is Vote against all Republicans because of President Trump because that’s all we can run on – our policies are so bad that we have bankrupted the state. “Nothing to see here move on”.

John E. Tobin October 12, 2018 at 8:53 am

Yes, we all know where Bob Duff stands on the issues of the day, or do we? Tolls??……and other than cutting ribbons for Poko and waving around $5,000,000 in tax payers money to add to the project, he has been silent on any remedy to the situation. And had it not been for the $5,000,000 the project most certainly never would have had a shovel in the ground. Instead of just standing maybe he should take a stand on “the issues of the day”.

“I’m not a big fan of tolls, but I endorse the transportation authority” Duff said (ctpost september 2017)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ii9tjovNRCo

“I think it’s very critical, because I think our economy is based on how well our transportation system does,” Connecticut state Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff told Aiello, saying he’s undecided about tolls and has many questions. “How much would they cost? Would they be differential depending on the day? Would Connecticut residents get a discount?” (April 25th 2018 cbslocal)

David Mapley October 12, 2018 at 10:18 am

As a Brit it is alarming to see an odious president being used as reason for voting for prolonged poor representation in Norwalk, and a counter balance another {…} local (MM..) driving the electorate based on Trump scaremongering. The issue is Norwalk is being driven into the ground, a Bridgeport-esque strategy of driving people out due to high property taxes, bring in low-income people (44% of school enrolment get free lunch entitlement). City Hall cronyism (Duff’s camapaign manager a live-in getting all kinds of expenses and ice cream!!) and dubious illegal record leaks all show you what the corridors of power are up to… You kicked the Brits out due to high taxes and a remote government, seems you forgot you history!! Please vote and change Norwalk for the better!!!

Edited to remove an insult, a violation of the comment policy. https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/comment-guidelines/

John E. Tobin October 12, 2018 at 11:13 am

Does anyone else see the irony in criticizing Marc D’amrlio for hiring competent campaign staff while Bob Duff hires clowns? (Joby and Socks, clown for ice cream)

Mike Mushak October 12, 2018 at 2:20 pm

I’ve been bullied all my life and recognize it comes mostly from ignorance and deep insecurities, and from folks who can dish it out but can’t take it.

I have to laugh that the usual suspects have shown up on this comment thread to circle the wagons, on cue. They toss out insults at Bob Duff like candy, but God forbid someone says something negative about their own candidate. “Shocked, shocked I tell you!” Then they cry for their Mommy {…}

Notice how the the folks commenting here who attacked me personally for calling out the sleazy tactics of the D’Amelio campaign, have not said one word to explain or support the platform of their own candidate. All they can do is attack me. You’d think they’d instead be trying to convince all the readers here why they should all vote for Marc, right?

With supportets like that, who needs enemies? I mean, just read the comments above! As I said, bullying reflects ignorance and deep insecurities.

I wish Marc well!

Edited to remove an insult, a violation of the comment policy. https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/comment-guidelines/

John Flynn October 12, 2018 at 4:03 pm

What concerns me? Dean Obrien is the treasurer of the 3rd Street Pac. Duff obtained campaingn contributions from The State of Ct Office of the treasury, Ct State Dems, Ct Working families, Occupy new Haven The AFT.ct , the AFCME Counsel 4 Dem Women PAC, Bridgeport DTC, Torrington DTC, and Unions totaling more than 30,000 employees. Teachers Unions, etc, etc, etc. Hundreds of contributions. Dean O’Brien is the treasurer of a Prohibited Political Committee Recipient. He works for Duff and cannot receive contributions from a Lobbyist.

Dean Holds $2,000 dollar a plate fund raisers, Duff hosts them. They collect the money from the group and there is no mention of the massive amounts of money that were raised, where it went, and how much came back to Duff as an “in-kind” contribution, gift, or fee, campaign contribution.

How do they account for the expenses? How much of the teacher’s Union dinner is returned a s a campaign contribution, who paid the expenses and were they refunded. there is supposed to be transparency and there is none.

Senators should not be supported by staff working for the lobbyist.

Statewide Officers are barred from receiving lobbyist contributions, everything Dean does for Duff is a contribution of one kind or another. None of the reimbursements from the lobby groups are listed in any documents provided by Duff to the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

CT Yankee October 12, 2018 at 4:57 pm

The term ‘Democrat’ was created as an insult and epithet.
It’s amazing just how prescient those 19th Century wordsmiths were!

DrewT October 13, 2018 at 8:27 am

@angrymikem Your Crying Room is all ready for you!! Enjoy your stay. Maybe one day you will actually have enough CLASS as someone like Marc D’Amelio but I hardly doubt it. Please continue supporting Duff and watch this City and State go down in Flames. And try reading John Flynn’s post maybe you will learn something called the truth instated of wondering where candidates standee in issues that don’t effect us.

Mike OReilly October 13, 2018 at 6:30 pm

Marc will win this election because Bob has supported two of the largest tax increases in the states history. Many of his democratic colleagues could not support the second tax increase. We have no improved results to show for these punishing tax increases. Our property taxes go up. You have all paid your car taxes? Remember this car tax was going to be a temporary tax. Every day you get up to go to work hard and Bob want’s you to pay just a little bit more with no improved results to show for what you pay. Our quality of life has been greatly diminished in the last eight years under Bob’s leadership. I have gotten to know Marc in the last two years and he is a person of Integrity. My definition of integrity is do what you say you will do. Marc has exceeded my expectations.

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